(Reuters) - A Wisconsin Army National Guard soldier who posted a photo on social media of soldiers smiling or striking poses around a flag-draped casket has been suspended, the guard said on Tuesday.
The photo of the group of soldiers in combat uniforms was taken around an empty casket at a National Guard training centre in Arkansas, said the Wisconsin Army National Guard, which become aware of the Instagram post on Monday.
“We put the FUN in funeral — your fearless honor guard from various states,” the post reads.
"I was appalled by the offensive photos and comments that appeared on this soldier's social media site regarding her duties as a funeral honour guard member," Major General Donald P. Dunbar, the Wisconsin adjutant general, said in a statement.
Specialist Terry Harrison, who posted the photo on a social media site, is a member of a Madison, Wisconsin-based guard unit. She has been suspended from funeral honors detail pending an investigation and assigned to other duties, a guard spokesman said.
Harrison could not immediately be reached to comment.
The photo drew hundreds of critical responses to the Wisconsin National Guard's Facebook page. The National Guard said it had taken measures to ensure Harrison's safety after she received threats in phone calls and on social media.
Judy Vincent, whose son died in Iraq in 2004, saw the post when someone else shared it one Facebook.
“It was like somebody slapped me in the face. I’ve never in my life seen such disrespect for the fallen or the families,” she said.
A second photo posted on her site had a caption suggesting that cold weather at a military funeral might result in a poor folding of the US flag, the National Guard said.
Major Paul Rickert, a Wisconsin National Guard spokesman, said the photos and comments did not portray misconduct during an actual military funeral, but he understood they could be upsetting.
"A military funeral is the final show of respect for our veterans and their families, and we take that solemn duty very seriously," Rickert said in a statement.
Do you think the post is offensive? Let us know in the comments below
(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Grant McCool)